Town of Ithaca, NY
Tompkins County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
The purpose of the Low Density Residential Zone is to provide an area of limited development where it is deemed most desirable in the Town to maintain larger lots for development and permit the possibility of continued agricultural use of the areas without limiting the areas to solely agricultural uses.
Only the following buildings or uses are permitted as a matter of right in a Low Density Residential Zone:
A. 
A one-family dwelling to be occupied by no more than:
(1) 
One family, or
(2) 
One family plus no more than one boarder, roomer, lodger, or other occupant.
B. 
A two-family dwelling consisting of a principal dwelling unit and an internal or attached accessory dwelling unit, provided that:
[Amended 12-11-2017 by L.L. No. 20-2017]
(1) 
The principal dwelling unit is occupied by no more than one family plus no more than one boarder, roomer, lodger or other occupant;
(2) 
The accessory dwelling unit is occupied by no more than one family; and
(3) 
The applicable requirements of § 270-219.6 (Accessory dwelling units) are met.
C. 
Nursery or farm, except a hog farm. On-site retail sales of farm and nursery products shall be subject to the provisions of § 270-56H below. Usual farm buildings are permitted, provided that:
(1) 
Any building in which farm animals are kept shall be at least 100 feet from any lot line or street right-of-way.
(2) 
No manure shall be stored within 100 feet of any lot line or street right-of-way.
D. 
Publicly owned park or playground including accessory buildings and improvements.
E. 
Any municipal or public utility purpose necessary to the maintenance of utility services except that substations and similar structures shall be subject to the same setback requirements as apply to residences in the district in which the substations or similar structures are constructed.
F. 
Day-care homes, family day-care homes and group family day-care homes.
G. 
Community residence.
H. 
Any lawful farm purpose, including usual farm buildings and structures, but excluding rendering plants, on lands the principal use of which is as a farm and which are located within a county agricultural district created under the provisions of Article 25-AA of the New York State Agriculture and Markets Law, notwithstanding the provisions of Subsection C above and regardless of the size of the lot, provided that such use is in compliance with all other provisions, such as yard regulations, building area, and other provisions governing Low Density Residential Zones.
[Added 8-1-2005 by L.L. No. 7-2005]
I. 
Small wind energy facilities, subject to the limitations on small wind energy facilities set forth in § 270-219.4.
[Added 8-11-2008 by L.L. No. 13-2008]
J. 
In addition to the uses of barns as principal buildings on farm lots or for farm purposes pursuant to Subsection C or H, respectively, a barn building that is at least 50 years old may be a principal building on a lot that is not used as a farm, or that is not used for farm purposes pursuant to Subsection H. Any such barn building may be used for any of the permitted principal uses in the Low Density Residential Zone, subject to the requirements in this article and chapter. Notwithstanding the prohibition in § 270-226 against more than one principal building on a lot, a building permit may be issued for construction of another principal building on the lot, provided that the barn building becomes an accessory building to the other building upon issuance of a certificate of compliance for the other building. If a barn building becomes an accessory building pursuant to this provision, its uses as an accessory building are subject to the requirements of this article and chapter. A barn building that becomes an accessory building pursuant to this provision may exceed or contribute to the exceedance of the cumulative square footage limit for accessory buildings in § 270-56C, provided that no expansion of the barn building or other accessory buildings is allowed once the cumulative square footage limit is met.
[Added 3-13-2017 by L.L. No. 6-2017]
The following uses are permitted in a Low Density Residential Zone, but only upon receipt of a special permit for same from the Planning Board in accordance with the procedures set forth in this chapter:
A. 
Church or other places of worship, convent and parish house.
B. 
Cemetery and the buildings and structures incident thereto.
C. 
Public, parochial and private schools, public library, public museum, day-care center, nursery school, and any institution of higher learning including dormitory accommodations.
D. 
Fire station or other public building necessary to the protection of or the servicing of a neighborhood.
E. 
Golf course, driving range or miniature golf course.
F. 
Clinic and nursing or convalescent home, provided that no building so used shall be within 100 feet from any street or within 150 feet of the lot line of any adjoining owner.
G. 
Clubhouse or lodge, provided that no building so used shall be within 100 feet from any street or within 150 feet of the lot line of any adjoining owner.
H. 
Bed-and-breakfast.
I. 
Equestrian facility, provided that adequate provision is made to prevent nuisance to adjoining residences and provided:
(1) 
The lot size is at least two acres (three acres if public sewers are not available);
(2) 
There is a nonoccupied and nonused buffer of at least 50 feet around the perimeter of the lot;
(3) 
Any building in which farm animals are kept shall be at least 100 feet from any lot line or street line; and
(4) 
No manure shall be stored within 100 feet of any lot line or street line.
The following accessory buildings or uses are permitted as of right in a Low Density Residential Zone:
A. 
Off-street garage or parking space for the occupants, users and employees in connection with uses permitted in this article, but subject to provisions of § 270-227.
B. 
Where the principal use is as a one- or two-family dwelling, private swimming pool, tennis courts, and other similar recreational facilities for the principal private use of the occupants of the dwelling.
C. 
Up to three accessory buildings other than a garage or a building occupied by a detached accessory dwelling unit, all such accessory buildings in the aggregate not to exceed a total of 600 square feet in size unless the lot is three acres or larger, in which event the aggregate area of the accessory buildings may not exceed 2,000 square feet.
[Amended 12-11-2017 by L.L. No. 20-2017]
D. 
A temporary building for commerce or industry, where such building is necessary or incidental to the development of a residential area. Such buildings may not be continued for more than one year except upon receipt of a special approval from the Board of Appeals.
E. 
The keeping of household pets in a dwelling unit or other location adjacent to or accessory to a dwelling unit (e.g., outside doghouse, etc.) provided that no more than three household pets shall be kept outside of dwelling units unless a greater number is authorized by special approval of the Zoning Board of Appeals.
F. 
The keeping of domestic animals in accessory buildings, provided that no such building shall be nearer than 30 feet to any lot line of any adjoining owner, and further provided that there shall be no raising of fur-bearing animals, or kennels for more than three dogs over six months old.
G. 
(Reserved)[1]
[1]
Editor’s Note: Former Subsection G, which set forth signs as a permitted accessory use, was repealed 8-7-2017 by L.L. No. 12-2017.
H. 
A roadside stand or other structure, not exceeding 500 square feet of enclosed space, for the display and sale of farm or nursery products related to farming and as a seasonal convenience to the owner or owners of the land. The majority of the products sold at such stand shall be, or be derived from, products produced on the farm on which the roadside stand is located. Any such stand shall be located a minimum of 30 feet from the street line, in such a manner as to permit safe access and egress for automobiles, and parking off the highway right-of-way.
I. 
Adult day-care facilities serving no more than four clients at any one time.
J. 
Home occupations, subject to the limitations on home occupations set forth in § 270-219.2.
[Added 2-12-2007 by L.L. No. 1-2007]
K. 
Amateur radio facilities, subject to the limitations on amateur radio facilities set forth in § 270-219.3.
[Added 8-13-2007 by L.L. No. 7-2007]
L. 
Small wind energy facilities, subject to the limitations on small wind energy facilities set forth in § 270-219.4.
[Added 8-11-2008 by L.L. No. 13-2008]
M. 
A detached accessory dwelling unit, provided that:
[Added 12-11-2017 by L.L. No. 20-2017]
(1) 
The accessory dwelling unit is occupied by no more than one family; and
(2) 
The applicable requirements of § 270-219.6 (Accessory dwelling units) are met.
[1]
Editor’s Note: Former § 270-57, Accessory buildings and uses authorized by special approval only, as amended 2-12-2007 by L.L. No. 1-2007, was repealed 12-11-2017 by L.L. No. 20-2017.
The following accessory buildings or uses are permitted in a Low Density Residential Zone, but only upon receipt of a special permit for same from the Planning Board in accordance with the procedures set forth in this chapter:
A. 
Equestrian facility, provided that adequate provision is made to prevent nuisance to adjoining residences and provided the lot size is at least two acres and there is a nonoccupied and nonused buffer of at least 50 feet around the perimeter of the lot.
[Amended 8-1-2005 by L.L. No. 7-2005; 12-11-2017 by L.L. No. 20-2017]
Except as may be specifically otherwise authorized in this chapter, in Low Density Residential Zones no building shall be erected, altered, or extended to exceed 38 feet in height from lowest interior grade nor 36 feet in height from lowest exterior grade, whichever is lower. No structure other than a building shall be erected, altered, or extended to exceed 30 feet in height. A building occupied by a detached accessory dwelling unit shall not exceed one story and 20 feet in height, except buildings constructed prior to the effective date of Local Law No. 20 of the Year 2017 may exceed these two parameters as long as the building height is not subsequently increased beyond that existing on the effective date of said local law. Other accessory buildings shall not exceed 15 feet in height. The foregoing height limitations shall not apply to buildings and structures used for agricultural purposes on lands the principal use of which is as a farm and which are located within a county agricultural district created under the provisions of Article 25-AA of the New York State Agriculture and Markets Law. Such agricultural buildings and structures so located may be constructed without limitations as to heights.
In Low Density Residential Zones yards of at least the following dimensions are required:
A. 
Front yard: Not less than the average depth of the front yards of buildings on lots immediately adjacent. However, the front yard depth shall not be less than 30 feet or need it be greater than 60 feet.
B. 
Rear yard: Not less than 50 feet in depth.
C. 
Side yards: Each not less than 40 feet in width.
[Amended 8-13-2012 by L.L. No. 11-2012]
D. 
Greater yards: Notwithstanding the foregoing, any special yard requirements for specific uses or buildings set forth elsewhere in this chapter shall, if more restrictive, supersede the above yard provisions.
E. 
Accessory buildings.
[Amended 8-13-2012 by L.L. No. 11-2012; 12-11-2017 by L.L. No. 20-2017]
(1) 
Buildings occupied by a detached accessory dwelling unit. Any such buildings must be located in a rear yard, be at least 50 feet from any side lot line, and be at least 35 feet from a rear lot line.
(2) 
All other accessory buildings (except garages, and except woodsheds meeting the requirements of Subsection G below) may not occupy any open space other than a rear yard.
(3) 
Accessory buildings (including garages, woodsheds, and buildings occupied by a detached accessory dwelling unit), in the aggregate, may occupy not more than 15% of the fifty-foot rear yard setback required by Subsection B above.
(4) 
Accessory buildings (except for garages and buildings occupied by a detached accessory dwelling unit) shall be not less than three feet from any side or rear lot line. Any accessory building, other than a garage or a building occupied by a detached accessory dwelling unit, on a corner lot shall be not less than five feet from the rear lot line.
F. 
Garages: An attached or detached garage may occupy any yard provided that it shall be no less than 30 feet from the front property line, no less than 40 feet from a side line, and no less than 50 feet from a rear line. All detached garages in the aggregate shall not exceed a total of 600 square feet in size. Detached garages shall be included in the calculations of accessory buildings that, in the aggregate, may not occupy more than 15% of any required rear yard. Notwithstanding the foregoing, the following shall apply:
[Added 8-13-2012 by L.L. No. 11-2012]
(1) 
In one of the side yards, a one-story garage, either attached to the principal building or separate therefrom, may be no less than 15 feet from a side line which is not a street line. In the rear yard, a one-story detached garage may be no less than five feet from any side or rear lot line.
(2) 
A one-story detached garage that serves dwellings on two separate lots may be built across a common lot line with a party wall by mutual agreement between adjoining property owners, provided that there is at least one garage bay on each lot, and further provided that the garage meets the front property line setback requirement above.
(3) 
Where the average natural slope of a lot exceeds 8% rise or fall directly from the street line, a one-story detached garage capable of housing not in excess of two cars may be located in the front or side yard not less than five feet from said street line upon receiving a special approval from the Board of Appeals.
G. 
Woodsheds: A woodshed which has no more than 100 square feet in floor area and the highest point of which is no more than 10 feet above ground level may occupy a side yard, provided that the total storage space of all woodsheds in a side yard shall not be more than 1,000 cubic feet. A woodshed in a side yard shall be not less than three feet from any side lot line.
[Added 8-13-2012 by L.L. No. 11-2012]
The maximum building area shall not exceed 10% of the lot area. Projections described in § 270-224 are not to be included in computing the percentage.
Lots in Low Density Residential Zones shall meet the following minimum requirements:
A. 
Minimum lot area shall be at least 30,000 square feet; and
B. 
Minimum width at the street line shall be 100 feet; and
C. 
Minimum width at the maximum required front yard setback line (60 feet from the street line) shall be 150 feet; and
D. 
Minimum depth from the highway right-of-way shall be 200 feet.
In the case of publicly owned properties, properties of universities, colleges, cemeteries, or other private institutions, located in Low Density Residential Zones, which comprise at least six acres in area and are traversed by interior roads or driveways, the front, side, and rear yard requirements set forth above shall apply only along the exterior public street frontages and boundaries with adjacent properties.
Parking requirements shall be as set forth in Article XXVII.